Thursday, August 22, 2013

Don't Worry About Mikael Granlund

Last year, Mikael Granlund made his long awaited debut for the Minnesota Wild. He scored a goal in the season opener, but after that it was far from pretty for the 21 year old. He went 24 games in between goals and saw himself get sent back down to Houston during that stretch. For the 2012-13 season, Granlund posted a line of 2-6-8 with a -4 rating in 27 games for the Wild.

Meanwhile, Granlund was quite the opposite while playing for Houston (now Iowa) in the AHL last year. In 29 games in the AHL (most coming during the NHL lockout), Granlund averaged nearly a point per game (10-18-18) while helping Houston secure a playoff berth.

Some have already taken to the forums by calling Granlund "a project", and saying that if he can not get it turned around this season then he is a lost cause. This is plain and simple, a poor assessment of Granlund's future with this team.

During his time in Finland, Granlund showed he was an elite player. He possesses great puck handling skills and has outstanding vision to see a play develop. He tends to set up a goal rather than score one, but he can score a highlight reel goal from time to time.

Mikko Koivu did not get off to a great start with the Wild either. In fact, his had worse PPG numbers in the AHL than Granlund did (although, Mikko had a full season in the AHL whereas Granlund only had a quarter of a season). Here is Mikko's stats through his first NHL season:

Now compare them to Granlund's stats:

As you can see, Granlund did about the same or better than Koivu, while taking the same path to the NHL.

Koivu went on to score 54 points (20G-34A) in his second season in the NHL, as he took on a bigger role, and we all know what he went on to do with the club.

Granlund enters his second season looking to lock down a roster spot (only two spots open between star prospects Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker and Nino Neiderreiter), and could see a bigger role with the club now that established players like Matt Cullen, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and Cal Clutterbuck have departed. With his skill set, he could make a huge impact like Koivu did in his sophomore year.

The point here, is don't worry about Mikael Granlund. He just needs a little bit more time. You can't solely pass judgement on a player based off their rookie seasons. If we did, then we would call Steve Mason a great goalie in this league (but good news is, we dont).

So don't pass judgement on him very quickly. Give him the chance he deserves...

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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